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Plenty of prescriptions, but no cures

January 07, 2007|SWATI PANDEY

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger unveils his healthcare plan Monday, it will be the latest in a long line of reform attempts to provide health insurance to California residents. -- SWATI PANDEY

Year:

1918

The plan: A ballot proposition to amend the state Constitution to allow a health insurance plan to be established.

Its fate: Detractors dubbed the idea a "Prussian plot" because it reputedly resembled German socialized healthcare, and voters rejected it, according to Daniel J.B. Mitchell, a professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management.

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Year: 1939

The plan: Sponsored by Democratic Gov. Culbert Olson, it would have mandated health insurance for all working Californians earning up to $3,000 annually, with the state, employers and employees splitting the cost. The self-employed could join voluntarily.

Its fate: Olson's lack of political skill in the face of concerted opposition from doctors and businesses killed the proposal, according to Mitchell.

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Year: 1945-47

The plan: Gov. Earl Warren tried not once but three times to provide health insurance for most workers in the state. Under his first plan, the state would use a 3% payroll tax, split by employers and employees, to pay for doctor visits and hospital care for all workers making between $300 and $4,000 annually and their dependents. Warren's second plan cut care to cover only hospitalization up to 21 days, using a 2% payroll tax. His third plan covered only major hospital expenses.

Its fate: All of Warren's efforts failed to reach the Assembly or Senate floors.

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Year: 1992

The plan: The year saw three major proposals. Proposition 166 would have mandated that all employers provide basic health insurance to workers and dependents. Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi drew up a blueprint for universal coverage. And state Sen. Nick Petris (D-Oakland) introduced a bill to create a plan in which the state would pick up all healthcare costs of residents.

Its fate: Voters overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 166; Garamendi's plan passed in the Legislature, but Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed it. Petris' bill couldn't muster the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate to raise taxes to pay for itself.

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Year: 1994

The plan: Backed by doctors, nurses, unions, senior groups and consumer advocates, Proposition 186 would have mandated universal coverage and made the state the "single payer" for healthcare, eliminating the need for private health insurers.

Its fate: Appearing on the ballot only months after President Clinton's healthcare plan stalled in Congress, the measure, criticized for its potential costs, was defeated by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

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Year: 2003

The plan: Crafted by Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco), it would have required most California employers either to offer health insurance to their employees or pay a fee to the state that would be used to establish a fund for covering the uninsured. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees were exempt from the fee.

Its fate: Although signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis, opponents qualified a referendum that effectively prevented its implementation until a November 2004 vote, when Californians narrowly voted against the law.

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Year: 2006

The plan: Sponsored by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), it proposed to make state government the single payer for all and established a commission to recommend a tax and premium structure by 2009.

Its fate: Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, stating that it would be too costly.

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